The Cubs extended their winning streak to five games by defeating the Orioles on Saturday afternoon to clinch another series. Unlike their other recent victories, Chicago relied on pitching and defense to pull out a low-scoring triumph.
Justin Steele didn’t miss a beat in his return from a forearm strain Saturday, keeping the Orioles off the scoreboard through four innings. Kyle Gibson kept the home team mostly in check, but a wild pitch on a strikeout opened the door for a rally in the 3rd.
Yan Gomes beat out the throw on that dropped third strike and Mike Tauchman walked to put two on with two outs for Nico Hoerner. The second baseman split the gap in left with a double for Chicago’s first hit on Saturday and put his team ahead 2-0.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 17, 2023
Steele finally made a mistake as he neared his pitch count in the top of the 5th inning. A slider caught too much of the plate and star catcher Adley Rutschman clubbed a game-tying two-run homer to left. The big lefty was able to finish the frame and his team gave him a win in the bottom of the inning.
Gomes started the rally yet again with a double to lead off and moved to third on a bunt from Miles Mastrobuoni. Tauchman followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs a lead they would never relinquish.
David Ross played things perfectly, getting four scoreless frames from his beleaguered bullpen to preserve the lead. Adbert Alzolay closed things out in the 9th inning to earn his fourth save of the season. (Box score)
The Cubs did not get many chances on Saturday but they took advantage of them. They were able to grab lead right back in the 5th after giving it up the previous half inning.
Why the Cubs Won
They kept a very good Baltimore lineup down for a second consecutive game and manufactured just enough offense to pull out the victory.
Stats That Matter
- Steele had good velocity and was just as sharp as before the injury, all great signs: 5 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 4 K, and 1 BB.
- Hoerner doubled twice and made several outstanding defensive plays to protect the lead.
- While not registering a hit, Tauchman was a key part of both scoring rallies and made another nice catch against the wall in center.
Getting Steele back in the fold is a huge boost to the Cubs’ chances to stay in the race. This homestand is going better than anyone could possibly have hoped and it’s very good to see the team being able to win in more than one type of game. It’s possible the bullpen circle of trust is starting to grow and that would certainly be a positive development.